City Tech, Fall 2016

Author: Rino (Page 3 of 3)

Neo-Pavlovian Conditioning, is it really that unordinary?

The first five chapters of Brave New World introduces the nature of this strange and cruel future. Both physically and mentally conditioning people from conception at the Incubation Centers to death at the Crematoriums conditioning plants (p.76), it paints a very bleak image of attaining a perfect society; society is perfect when everything is neatly outlined, preordained, and can be repeated ad infinitum, so long as you have the necessary resources/labour to do so…just like a factory.

Which brings me to my main point, do you think that this conditioning is really that strange? Hyperbole, most definitely, but to think that this sort of thing doesn’t even happen in our own society would be a lie to oneself. Sure we don’t “deprive embryos of oxygen” (p. 24), but commercialization in Western society is definitely conditioning people to believe they like the things they like.

“’And that,’ put in the Director sententiously, ‘that is the secret of happiness and virtue – liking what you’ve got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny.’” (p.26)

So long as the person is happy, what harm is there in influencing a person’s decisions in life…is probably what big businesses use to comfort themselves when they make their advertisements to get people to buy their products.

“’We condition the masses to hate the country,’ concluded the Director. ‘But simultaneously we condition them to love all country sports. At the same time, we see to it that all country sports shall entail the use of elaborate apparatus. So hat they consume manufactured articles as well as transport. Hence those electric shocks.’” (p.31)

[INSERT SPORT HERE] is exactly what I think of when I see this quote. People who are obsessed with football/baseball/basketball/soccer/hockey buy their favourite team’s jersey, caps, the sports equipment to try it themselves, and other team memorabilia. Even more, Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest holiday for commercialism, where most people who attend the broadcast are not there to watch their teams compete but are instead openly admitting that they are watching advertisements out of enjoyment.

Need more examples of the influence marketing has on people? Think about gangster rap music and how it influences minorities to be criminals. Think about product placement that is on television and movies, how it makes people want to look like that and thus have a need to buy it. Think about the mindless consumer who has brand loyalty, whether it’s for iPhone or Android, Playstation or Xbox, Mac or PC. Think about the colour preference in your own caste and how it makes you feel better when you’re part of your own group rather than in the other…oh wait, that’s from the book (p.35)

“Not so much like drops of water, though water, it is true, can wear holes in the hardest of granite…” (p. 36) and so too do the tiny blips of subliminal ideas play a role in shaping a person’s tastes and preferences in our own modern world; drilling their way into one’s subconscious till it becomes not one’s opinion, but fact.

Government and morality prevent the extremity from actually happening, but if corporations were fully in control of society, Ford’s T-Model would surely be a virtue in our gospels today…

The Dichotomy of Setting in “Metropolis”

Straying from my comfort zone of analyzing characters, plot, and literary devices (such as symbolic objects/events), I’m going to talk more about the settings of Metropolis because I feel it warrants a bit of attention compared to doing so with literary text. You don’t get the same effect when someone describes a place compared to when a film shows you the place right in front of you to interpret.

At the very second of the film when the title comes into view (2:58), you are greeted with a magnificent panorama of the illustrious city of Metropolis…but then are immediately taken away from it to be shown the daily lives of workers, a stark “shift change” (3:59). I questioned why the film would do this; portray this picturesque, grand cityscape and then shift gears entirely to showcase the struggle of the working class (who are shown to reside below, via the use of elevators). It seemed as though a “tease” to the audience, or even moreover it’s a tease to the residence of the Working City.

They struggle throughout their entire life, being the (literal) foundation of Metropolis and never get to go to the surface with all the good they did for their sister city. This is evident with Maria bursting in with children saying that the residents of the upper-class are “brothers” to the children (10:41), and then immediately being escorted out. The people of Metropolis obviously strive to keep the residence of the Working City hidden away underground to not ruin the allure of their city. And yet, they need one another, because without the dream of living in Metropolis the working class would not have something to work towards, and without the hard work of the Working City the upper-class would not have their machines working to power their city. You can see this allure to Metropolis with Georgy, when Freder switches places with him (34:30); when he’s in the cab (35:35) he initially follows directions and is heading towards the apartment with Josaphat, but then is quickly tempted by the fun/excitement Metropolis has to offer and switches course.

Something that struck me throughout the film was that there were very little scenes that showed the Metropolis. A lot more shots were taken of the Working City, which also fosters the idea that this cinematographic decision was meant to illustrate Metropolis more as a “utopia” (in the etymology of the word, meaning “a place that doesn’t exist”). We in our lives right now are living in the “Working City” as we try to work out our day-to-day life, while always hoping to make it to “Metropolis”, a place where we can be comfortable/care-free. That’s what I took away from this, but I might be overthinking it or building it up more than it should.

Another direction that I take with the two settings is that Metropolis above is viewed as a “paradise” while the working class are still living the struggles of life…so in a way Metropolis can be viewed as heaven and the Working City is Earth in a Judaeo-Christian viewpoint. With the insurmountable amount of biblical undertones (and blatant references of Revelations with the “Whore of Babylon’), it’s probably no surprise that these two settings can be seen as such. I mean, the Eternal Gardens (7:30) look so much like the “Garden of Eden” or at least makes you feel like it is, so Metropolis must have some connection to heaven. Could also possibly be representations of Sodom and Gomorrah, but I don’t have enough information on those biblical cities to make a concrete answer.

One last little tid-bit that’s not necessarily related to setting. When Freder leaves Josaphat near the elevator right as Jon Fredersen’s assistant comes up the elevator (1:13:25), you see a working class man going up the elevator on the left side and an upper-class woman coming down on the right side (based on both their attires, I made this judgment on their class). I find it very fitting the rising of the working class and the fall of the upper-class happens through a simple, overextended camera shot. This happens midway through the film, so it’s just a masterstroke of cinematography to present that idea through visual representation/foreshadowing.

Our modern day Machine, the Internet…

Ask yourself, how long can you go without having to use your phone? How long before you succumb to the allure of seeing what your friend just posted on Facebook or Twitter? Why keep refreshing your email hoping for something new to appear rather than taking in the day?

Having just read The Machine Stops, I could not believe how well Forster captured the idea of man’s dependency on technology in 1909. With every innovation made to add comfort into a person’s life, people cannot detach from it; that thing becomes the center of everyone’s attention and, to the extreme, their life. People are so willing to express their “ideas” on social media, similar to how people in The Machine Stops do through their lectures. They focus on being innovative and clever instead of just having appreciation for what they have…which is something I witness a lot when people complain about how their phone is outdated or when they don’t follow the latest trends. We seem to always want to be up-to-date on everything and with the Internet (our modern day Machine) we are capable of doing so…

Vashti is a great representation of a normal First-World consumer in our society. Much like how I see people act with their cellphones, Vashti acts like a recluse (with her white skin and lack of going out) who has difficulty in physical/social situations and instead strives to communicate through “The Machine”. This inability to have real human connections with others is pretty evident with how more and more people seem to be acting socially awkward today. And everything Vashti does is in relation to the betterment of The Machine, even though she’s actually sacrificing her freedom and will to it; we feel like by voicing our opinions or following what’s relevant through the Internet, we are bettering ourselves but in the end why does it matter what Kim Kardashian is doing or why should one talk about the history of Australian Music.

In the following quote, doesn’t it honestly sound like news feeds from Facebook?

“What was the new food like? Could she recommend it? Has she had any ideas lately? Might one tell her one’s own ideas? Would she make an engagement to visit the public nurseries at an early date? – say this day month”

Albeit not entirely worded correctly like our modern lexicon, it’s crazy to think about that this was written more than a hundred years ago and yet Forster nailed it on the head; we fancy ourselves in being important with random, irrelevant non-sense. Even Vashti’s irritation to responding and yet doing so anyway is pretty accurate to how, at least I, respond to those kind of messages (paragraph following the quote).

Just think about the next time you send a message or are staring at your computer longingly looking for entertainment. You should instead seek that entertainment and joy in the real world. Progress and innovation are good, but you should also take a step back to appreciate where this progress came from and just take it in rather than expecting to constantly move forward.

A Guy Named After Mineral Water…

Hello all, my name is Pellegrino which some of you might know as a brand of mineral water that is mildly popular. My name is actually Italian for “pilgrimage”, which I guess my pilgrimage is to find a career at this point in my life. 😀

My hobbies include playing video games, watching movies, reading comics, practicing guitar, drawing, and eating food. I have a lot of projects that I have planned out, but most of them are on hiatus. I would like to eventually make my own video game, that’s a big goal of mine, but other than that it would be nice to make a phone app, write some comics, and maybe even make my own gaming YouTube channel at some point.

I currently am unemployed, but would like to find an internship related to my major (partly because it’s an actual prerequisite for one of my required classes). I used to work at a grocery store, but the company recently went under so I decided to focus more on acquiring an internship and working on school. The main company was A&P, in case you were wondering; I worked for a Waldbaums, a sister company of Pathmark (the more well known supermarket). In any case, I’m working on getting better as a programmer and am doing small projects at home in order to practice.

Honestly, I didn’t really do much during my break. I did take 3 summer classes in the same month, so that was a bit of an interesting experience to have that much work crammed in such a short amount of time. After that month past, I just relaxed at home or went out and played Pokemon Go (I’m currently level 23, if anyone was interested). I also went to Florida for a week, but that was mostly a visit of family and to escort my grandma there to see her daughter/my aunt.

This is me this summer at a gun range in Florida...I forgot what gun this was but it was super fun to shoot and looked crazy cool!

This is me this summer at a gun range in Florida…I forgot what gun this was but it was super fun to shoot and looked crazy cool!

I enjoy being creative and having my voice be conveyed with writing…while at the same time find it tedious to convey it; same with reading, it’s fun to learn about stuff but feels like a chore sometimes compared to more readily available mediums (like movies and TV). I have used OpenLab for only one class before, Technical Writing; it was alright, but I just thought of it as an alternative version of BlackBoard.

I love Science Fiction, whether it’s the classics like Jules Verne or the more modern like Marvel & DC. I have a huge list of favourite Science Fiction properties, some include War of the Worlds, Harrison Bergeron, Back to the Future, Dr. Who, and Megaman X (I think that covers one for each medium). Science Fiction is very much connected to my major because I work with computers, which is an ever emerging technology that constantly changes and could even change the “science fiction” to “science fact”.

I hope to get more analytical with some science fiction stories (like Brave New World, which I read but hardly remember anything about it since it’s been a while) and to also be introduced with some new stuff related to Science Fiction. Also, I hope to get a more creative writing course out of this, since I only took the general education English course and Technical Writing, which just talked about structure and form of documents.

Overall my strengths & weaknesses as a writer, reader, & thinker can be broken down like this:

Strengths:

  1. Organized
  2. Well-versed diction
  3. Stickler for grammar
  4.  Proof-read everything I produce

Weaknesses:

  1. Take a long time
  2. Find it difficult to stretch stuff out if needed (like page requirements)
  3. Really prefer working at home

Anyway, hope to have a good semester! (And maintain my 3.8 GPA…)

Newer posts »